SWCS report card results are in

The Ohio Department of Education released its annual state report card and once again the South-Western City School District earned a “continuous improvement” ranking.

District officials discussed the report at a special board of education meeting on Aug. 25.

The district met 16 out of 30 state indicators. State distinction levels include excellent with distinction, excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch and academic emergency.

The state assigns districts and buildings a ranking based on the combination of indicators, performance index scores, adequate yearly progress and the value-added measure. The district’s performance index score was 90.1. The highest performance score is 120 and it measures how many students progressed in test scores, compared to the previous year.

The district did not meet the criteria for adequate yearly progress, but it scored above average in the value-added measure.

“There are many reasons to celebrate,” said Lois Rapp, assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum. “We met the value-added last year, but we were above this year.”

Value-added started about three years ago and measures how many fourth through eighth graders made at least one year’s worth of progress from one school year to the next.

“It’s not just looking at one snap shot,” said Rapp.

Despite the boost in ranking from value-added, the district fell behind at the fifth grade level. Students are considered proficient if their score is 75 percent or higher. South-Western students scored below that requirement in all four areas: reading 68.4 percent, math 59.2 percent, science 58.3 percent and social studies 57.2 percent.

“We need to make some structural changes in the fifth grade,” said Rapp.

Third grade students also scored below state average in reading and math.

Rapp reported that seven elementary schools will receive $60,000 in federal school improvement aid for intervention strategies. The state hires coaches to address the areas students most need work. The schools include Alton Hall,

Darby Woods, East Franklin, West Franklin, North Franklin, Harmon and Stiles.

For more information on the state report card, visit the Ohio Department of Education Web site.

Background checks

Assistant Superintendent Gary Smetzer reported that due to changes in the state legislature, the district was required to fingerprint and conduct background checks on most employees.

One house bill requires that school districts complete a background check and report the findings. Another bill requires that public employees be fingerprinted.

Smetzer said approximately 1,600 employees have been fingerprinted.

“We are in great shape as we start the school year,” said Smetzer. “All of our certified employees have been fingerprinted and those are the people around the kids. We have not had any disqualifiers on the list.”

The Ohio Department of Education wanted the reports by early September. Smetzer said after Sept. 5, the ODE would send out a list of employees who have not been run through the system.

According to the assistant superintendent, only seven employees that need to be checked have not been, though he said they are working on it and do not anticipate any problems.

Summer projects

Deputy Superintendent Phil Warner said the district is in “good shape” for the 2008/09 school year.

The district has their summer permanent improvement projects complete. District officials said the projects were on time and under budget.

The projects replaced fencing around athletic fields at Norton Middle School and Franklin Heights. Fencing was also added along the mezzanine at the South-Western Career Academy.

Roofing repairs were made to Alton Hall, Harrisburg, J.C. Sommer, Prairie Lincoln, Richard Avenue and Stiles elementary schools. They were also made to Franklin Heights, Westland and Central Crossing high schools.

The varsity athletic fields at all four high schools received lighting upgrades.

Asphalt paving projects were completed at the district’s transportation facility and all four high schools. Buckeye Woods Elementary School also had asphalt repairs.


Warner reported that 1,300 students enrolled over the summer. The estimated enrollment is 20,883. Last year, student enrollment was 20,825.

“The trend is the same,” said Warner. “We are on par with where we were last year.”

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